Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann, and the Perversity of Brilliance

Nov. 27 2017

In Eichmann in Jerusalem, her 1963 report on the trial of the former SS director for Jewish affairs, the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt portrayed her subject as an ordinary, mindless bureaucrat rather than a genocidal monster: an example of what she famously called the “banality of evil.” Norman Podhoretz responded with a decisive critique of her thesis, which appeared in Commentary under the title “Hannah Arendt on Eichmann: A Study in the Perversity of Brilliance.” In the essay, Podhoretz also took Arendt to task for her attack on Jewish communal leaders for what she describes as their complicity in the Holocaust, and for her contempt for Zionism. Ruth Wisse discusses the essay, its legacy, and its implications for today in conversation with Eric Cohen. (Audio, 43 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)

Read more at Tikvah

More about: Adolf Eichmann, Anti-Semitism, Hannah Arendt, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Norman Podhoretz


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria